Nineteenth century philosopher, widely noted for his critique of religious values. Nietzsche's mentor Schopenhauer had argued that we are aware of the the nature of the things-in-themselves was only perceptible as aspects of will; and as such the phemomenal world is essentially a manifestation of will. The effect of this is to ensure that suffering is the essential characteristic of existence, a view that was to prove a strong influence on such figures as Thomas Hardy. The only relief postulated by Schopenhauer lay in a denial of will and the self altogether.

By contrast, Nietzche was essentially indifferent to metaphysical issues of noumena, taking the view that even if such considerations could become apparent in phenomenal terms (i.e. as a manifestation of a single will) it would still be unlikely to be intelligble to any observer. Accordingly, Nietzsche shared with Kierkegaard? a focus on the irreducible subjectivity of existence, and, in this case, the individual WillToPower.

Where Schopenhauer's analysis of a godless world led him to pessimism, Nietzche's analysis led him to a much more liberating perspective since the death of god inevitably meant the collapse of oppressive slave moralities and the opportunity for a transmogrification from being 'human, all too human' to a higher form of humanity (ubermensch). In particular, ThusSprachZarathrustra, devotes a great deal of attention to clearing obstacles to this creative trnasformation but with the 'teleological' considerations largely disregarded; thereby avoiding the problem that predetermined description of the ubermensch would turn it into another form of herd morality.

Few philosophers have come quite so close to writing literature as Nietzsche. As with Whitman, it seems that there is no single Nietzsche, rather he could be said to contain multitudes (since the classic Nietzschean modus operandi is to put forward differing scenarios, an example of what Mikhail Bakhtin later termed polypony). To take one example, the same writer who avers a preference for Prussian authoritarianism, is precisely the same writer who denounces Germany as a crude state only capable of military power and lacking France's cultural influence; to the extent that no-one in Germany is capable of understanding him. The same writer who denounces religion as a crude mechanism for enforcing slave morality can also write (following Schopenhauer) that Buddhism is the only positivistic religion that has gone BeyondGoodAndEvil, even when he elsewhere denounced Buddhism as being symptomatic of slave morality.

Nietzsche has been nominated as a Virian Saint, particularly for his implacable hostility towards dogmatism and hypocrisy.

See other PhilosophersAndBrigands. See also: GeorgeEliot, ArthurSchopenhauer, Kierkegaard

Last edited on Tuesday, June 17, 2003 3:58:21 pm.